After a multi-day rally that provided some relief to battered investors, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) headed lower on Friday. The U.S. economy is going to get worse before it gets better as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to spread rapidly. On Thursday, the Labor Department announced that more than 3.2 million unemployment claims were filed in the previous week, easily a record.
The U.S. now has the most confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus of any country, with more than 86,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 1,300 people have died in the U.S. from the virus. The Dow was down about 3% at 11:25 a.m. EDT.
Shares of Boeing (NYSE:BA) took a dive on Friday as the company reportedly plans to decline any government aid as part of the relief bill working its way through Congress. Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) stock was also down as rivals roll out low-cost wireless plans.
Boeing won't be bailed out for now
Shares of airplane manufacturer Boeing have staged a dramatic comeback this week after crashing in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The stock was up 90% over four days, partly driven by optimism surrounding the massive $2 trillion relief package making its way through Congress.
Boeing's rally took a break on Friday as the stock plunged 10%. Some comments from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin regarding the relief package may be contributing.
In an interview with Fox Business Network, Mnuchin said that Boeing has not requested government help. Under the terms of the relief package, some companies can request money to cover payroll, but the government may take equity stakes in exchange for the assistance. Boeing has told Mnuchin that it won't participate in this program.
Boeing was already burning cash prior to the pandemic as the 737 Max was grounded after two fatal crashes. It could take years for demand for air travel to fully rebound, especially if the pandemic triggers a lengthy recession. Demand for Boeing's jets could be depressed for some time, putting additional pressure on the company's cash flow.
For now, Boeing is saying it doesn't need government assistance to weather this storm. That could change if the situation becomes more dire in the coming months.
A price war is brewing in wireless plans
While telecommunications stocks are generally viewed as defensive and relatively safe during recessions, especially for dividend investors, a price war could knock down profits at big wireless providers like Verizon and AT&T. Shares of Verizon were down 1% Friday morning.
Verizon rival AT&T announced a new low-cost wireless plan on Thursday that could lead customers to downgrade as they look to save money during this difficult time. Through its prepaid arm, AT&T is offering a wireless plan that comes with unlimited talk and text and 2GB of data for $15 per month. The deal is valid for new and existing customers.
This comes a few days after smaller wireless provider T-Mobile moved up plans to launch its own $15-per-month service. T-Mobile Connect, which was originally announced late last year, will offer the same amount of data as AT&T's new plan at the same price. However, the T-Mobile plan will have access to the company's 5G network, allowing for faster download speeds.
This proliferation of low-cost wireless plans that offer enough data for most people could reduce demand for pricier options like Verizon's various unlimited plans. While it's hard to predict how consumers will react, Verizon may be forced to jump on the low-cost bandwagon as the economy deteriorates.
Verizon stock has held up better than most during the pandemic-driven sell-off. Shares are down just 15% from their 52-week high.